Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013 Highlights From a Year of Whimsy

I ran away for the Holidays. I went back to the desert where I am "from". My heart lives in Arizona, even if  I never will again. I am already lost in this picture, thinking about the hike we were on when I took the shot. Staring at it makes me deeply, quietly happy and ache-y, yearn-y all at the same time. 

Since my brain is still tromping through the desert, looking back at my youth, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at a few blog highlights from 2013.

Most Popular Post 
My post on how to build a planter out of 2x4's crushed the stats of anything I've ever posted. I've had 2106 hits as of today on this post. Mind boggling. I did think it might do well when I searched Google last spring looking for ideas myself and there were no posts at all on the subject. Yay for practical, original ideas.  Check it out if you are already planning your spring garden. I just reread it. It's a great tutorial, if I do say so myself.

Most Useful to Families with Small Children

Another very popular post was this one I wrote about my sweet friend Samantha's house. She has such great ideas for living with small kids and still having a stylish space. It has been such fun to update her on how popular this post has been. She is such an unassuming person. Check it out here.

Best Use of a Giant Box of Moss
This was one of the funnest packages I have ever received. How do you not love a 24 inx16 in box full of sheet moss from Forks, WA? I loved it so much, I covered a table with it and then wrote a whole post about how to use said moss in your own home. Check it out here.

Best Homemade Magnetic Chalkboard

 Man you people love your tutorials. This was another Pinterest success. And I have used and used and used this chalkboard, even if it is a bit bumpier than I would have liked. It may be moving across the room soon. I am in a fit of switching things around here, and I have my eye on an armoire that may get a tattoo for that spot. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you want to make your own giant magnetic chalkboard, you can read the post here.

Prettiest Barn Sale Photos

I always love the barn sale preview posts, but Holly's shots of this year's products just took my breath away. She really out did herself. If you missed them, check them out here. You can see the pictures she took of the barn sale all staged here, and more of her work from our summer workshop here.

Holly's business is hbsmith designs. And her Etsy shop is here.

Best Farm Table Makeover

Well, it was my only farm table makeover, but it turned out so well! And it was such fun to be Dana's Fairy Godmother for a while. I just love connecting people with the stuff of their dreams. It's such fun to make wishes come true, and so rare that you can. See how I did my magic and go on a tour of Dana's freshly redecorated dining room here.

Best New Medium

I have spent a lot of time talking about chalk paint on this blog. And I thought I need to branch out a little. So when Miss Mustard Seed started her own line of milk paint, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I loved it! It's completely different from chalk paint, but you can do such cool stuff with it. It crackles and peels and gives things all kinds of age and personality. Hence an entire post dedicated to my exploration of milk paint here

Best Birthday Ever

2013 really was my favorite birthday ever! Well, at least as an adult. I think turning 16 and being able to date and drive on the same day may have beat out meeting the REAL Groundhog by just a hair.  But I would highly recommend going to a town that throws a major party every year on your birthday. There's nothing that compares to seeing fireworks at 6:30 in the morning over a crowd of 20,000 people all squished on a hilltop together to watch a rodent predict the weather in the dead of winter. Seriously. It just doesn't get any better than that. Read my very extended account here. What? I needed to save it all for posterity. It was that good.

Most Impactful Experience

Attending the Haven Blogging conference totally changed my life. This post is all about my experience. It was amazing to meet all these women who's thoughts I read daily. It made me feel whole, and part of a larger community of people trying to change the world for the better, one project or thought at a time. it showed me how far I've come and how very far I have to go here in Blog World. But I found my place there. And I think I've found my voice here, on this little blog.

My Favorite Post of 2013

13 Ways to Get a Good Night's Sleep. What a beautiful post. It made me cry with gratitude when I read it again. That I have a garden. That I have such lovely children. That my life can be so simple and beautiful, filled with light and love and beauty. That God would love me enough to give me days like that and the wisdom to write them down so I can feel them over and over again. Such wonder.

OK, now that I've cleaned myself up a bit (that last post used up more than a few tissues), let's look forward to 2014. Truth be told, I don't really know what to tell you here. I am addicted to blogging and usually get twitchy if I don't post at least once a week. So there should be no major surprises there. 

And I am having a consult with Karianne from ThistleWood Farms fame about where to go with my blog later this month. There may be some surprises there. Or maybe not. 

I am doing a lot of things differently with my professional life this year, There will be some surprises there. But I can't tell you what they are just yet. I promise to spill the beans as soon as I have figured a few more things out.

In the meantime, I think I want to go back to my hike in Arizona, just for a little longer. Here, come with. The sun is starting to set.

While we're walking, why don't you tell me what you'd like to see here on 
Gathering Branches in 2014. I can use all the help I can get. 

Plus you know how I feel about making people's wishes come true...

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw


  1. So glad you popped up today on Facebook! Your blog is awesome! And so are you. Miss you! I might be heading through DC for my reunion in Philly that was rescheduled for April. I will keep you posted! Love Love Love the pic of you and the Gobbler's Knob sign! How ironic...that is the name of our swim club here!

  2. What a fantastic and successful year! I'm so proud of you! I loved your blog from the moment I read the first entry, you have such a fun and relatable voice, and tons of great pics. All of your entries are magic, happy-making and useful--no better combination than that. Love you!